The differences between Early Decision, Early Action, and Regular Decision

And deciding which admissions decision is right for you

Early Decision (ED)

Early Decision (ED) is perhaps the most precious of the application decisions because you can only choose one university and it is a binding agreement, meaning that if you are admitted to the school you will enroll there and withdraw applications to all other universities. You also receive your admissions decision response earlier, generally in December, so you will know more readily if you have been admitted or not. It is an excellent decision in applying to your dream school, especially if that school is more competitive. Because Early Decision is more limited because you can only apply to one school and it is binding, the applicant pool here tends to be more self-selective. They’re immediately telling the university, Hey! If you admit me, I’ll definitely be here in the fall! It gives admissions officers an idea of who then they need to admit Regular Decision (RD) to create their fully rounded freshman class.

Early Action (EA)

Early Action (EA) is the less intense version of Early Decision. This is a non-binding application that you submit earlier, generally early to mid-November, varying by school. In my opinion, if a school offers EA, there is almost no reason not to take advantage of this particular application decision. Essentially, EA has an earlier deadline for turning in your application materials. You’re telling a university, Hey, I’m really interested in attending your university! I have all my things in early because my mind has been set for some time. The benefit of applying Early Action is that you’ll receive your response from your university(s) sooner than the Regular Decision pool, usually December-February. You’ll still have until May with the national deadline for enrollment to make your final decision, but you’ll have peace of mind that you’ve gotten in if you were admitted.

Regular Decision (RD)

Regular Decision is the general round of applications due anywhere December-February varying by school. In this application round, you will be in with most people who are submitting their applications. Decisions will be released in the spring, usually in March or April. This allows you free reign to make your decision on where to enroll as your admissions decisions begin to roll in.

Which is right for you?

There are a number of factions that go into deciding which application round is right for you. One that I most recommend is prioritizing schools based on your personal preference. Prioritize your top choices and most competitive schools for ED and EA as appropriate. Not all schools offer all decision options, so noting this information early can help guide you to make the right decision.

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With years of admissions experience and professional writing, Christina of Essay with Ease is your go-to guide for all essays related to college admissions.

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Essay with Ease

With years of admissions experience and professional writing, Christina of Essay with Ease is your go-to guide for all essays related to college admissions.